The blogosphere is buzzing over an essay written by Missing star Ashley Judd. The actress, who has appeared in films since 1991 and whose impressive resume includes hits like Kiss the Girls and De-Lovely, received criticism last month from multiple media outlets because her face looked “puffy” following a series of steroid treatments for a serious sinus infection and flu. Several sites, such as MSNBC and Radar online, commented on her appearance, and made claims that Judd had undergone plastic surgery. Frustrated by the fervor surrounding her face, Judd spoke out in an essay for The Daily Beast.
Judd has channeled her concern about how women are objectified and scrutinized in the media in a thoughtful, insightful, and courageously written piece. Her article asks readers to consider how they respond to and digest frequently misogynistic presentations of females in media today.
Judd has had a long history of championing causes that she believes in, like preventing HIV and helping to empower youth. While we’ve always admired her for her activism before, we really applaud her eloquent and well-thought out response to what must have been a hurtful, difficult few weeks. Here’s an excerpt:
Consequently, I choose to address [what’s been said about me] because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.
That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.
If nothing else, Judd’s op-ed is a valuable piece that helps start conversation about how we present and discuss women and their bodies today. This blog often covers celebrities and it is our goal to use them as a lens for discussing different styles and trends. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue—tell us in the comments.